Bongbong admin Marcos unlikely to revive helicopter deal with Russia

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FILE PHOTO: A Mi-17 helicopter is seen during the leak test at the Kazan Helicopter Plant, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters, in Kazan, Russia August 24, 2020. REUTERS/Alexey Nasyrov

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration is unwilling to reinstate the Philippines’ purchase of 16 Russian military helicopters, a deal his predecessor terminated.

According to the president, the country has already “secured an alternative supply from the [United States].”

“I believe it has already been determined by the previous administrator that this deal will not materialize, will not proceed. We have now secured alternate supply from the United States, through the manufacturer in Poland,” he said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the 48th Philippine Conference and Trade Expo 2022 at the Manila Hotel.

“Anyway, mayroon na tayong kapalit (We already have a replacement),” Marcos added.

Marcos also said the Philippine government hopes to negotiate with Russia to get even a portion of the deposit it paid for the scrapped chopper deal.

“We hope to negotiate to at least recover a percentage. But the deal, as it was, maybe [at] at the beginning or middle of last year, has already been canceled and we have obtained another alternative supply for the helicopters that we need,” he said.

Marcos made the remarks in response to Russia’s call for the Philippines to honor the deal to acquire 16 Mi-17 helicopters.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov said Thursday that Russia “continues to fulfill all obligations” to supply the Philippines with military helicopters through continued production.

In November 2021, the Philippine government agreed to pay 12.7 billion pesos ($228 million) for military helicopters, as it seeks to modernize its military equipment.

Manila paid 1.9 billion pesos as a down payment for the transaction in January this year.

But days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ended, his administration canceled an order for Russian military helicopters over fears of US sanctions amid the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

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